How Not to Run an Airport

It’s Spring Vacation, and we booked a flight to Santa Fe.

The plane left Indianapolis promptly on time, headed for Dallas-Ft. Worth. It landed a couple of minutes ahead of schedule. And then it sat on the runway for nearly 30 minutes, because–the pilot informed us–the gate was broken. Rather than sending us to an alternate gate, we sat there until they repaired it.

Anyone who has had the misfortune to connect through DFW can attest to the sprawl. We arrived at Concourse C and our connecting flight was departing from B concourse–a distance of at least two miles on foot. The original time between flights was an hour; by the time we deplaned, we had fewer than 30 minutes. We rushed to take the Skylink–the tram that runs between concourse–but as the tram approached, an announcement over the intercom informed us that the train would not be stopping at the B Concourse, due to a “security breach,” and to proceed to other concourses on foot. We had no option but to walk.

My husband is 80, with a heart condition that prevents him from sustained  fast walking. We found one of the handicap-assistance vehicles that drives passengers who are unable to make the trek on foot, but by the time we arrived at our gate, the plane had closed, and our seats had been given to standby customers.

By this time, we were out of both breath and patience. The gate attendant informed us that the next flight to Santa Fe was at four, and full. (It was 9:00 am.) Would we be willing to fly into Albuquerque instead, and take a shuttle to Santa Fe? We agreed. At this point, we were standing at the outermost end of Concourse B; the flight to Albuquerque would be leaving from Concourse D. We could get seat assignments at the gate. Once again, we made the lengthy trek to a different concourse; at least this time, the tram operated.

We settled down in the lounge area of the new gate to wait. When the service counter opened, I went up to get our seat assignments–only to be told that there had been a gate change and the flight would now leave from Concourse A!

I am writing this from the waiting area in Concourse A, where we have been informed that the flight will be “slightly” delayed.

I am not in a good mood. In fact, I am definitely cranky.

I’ve been through DFW many times; it is one of my least favorite airports. Somehow, there’s always a problem. It is inexcusable that a malfunctioning gate is allowed to cause a 30 minute delay–especially at an airport where large numbers of passengers connect to other flights. DFW is a prime example of a place that does not work. It’s badly designed, badly run, and judging from what I’ve seen during my unfortunately extensive tour of the place, rarely cleaned.

At this point, I just hope to make it to Santa Fe. Not an auspicious start….blogging may be haphazard this week.


  1. HuffPost just ran a list of the country’s worst airports. I believe DFW was # 3 or 4 on the list. I’m in the Atlanta airport now and it’s no picnic either. It also made the list but wasn’t rated as bad as DFW.

  2. What a horrendous experience! We came back from Costa Rica through DFW. Customs was extremely stressful, worse than I ever remembered when we traveled through Atlanta, also a huge monstrosity of an airport. Two hours was barely enough to get through the morass. I do hope that Bob and you have safe journeys the rest of the way.

  3. I remember when flying was actually fun. Those days are long gone, unfortunately. I wish you a better experience during the rest of your trip.

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